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Abstract

Our previous theoretical work predicted the possibility of enhancing three-phase packed-bed reactor performance by operating in the pulsing-flow regime. This article deals with the experimental study of the beneficial effect of pulsing flow on reaction outcome. Hydrogenation of phenylacetylene, dissolved in n-tetradecane over Pt/alumina catalyst, was chosen as the experimental reaction system. This is a triangular reaction, with styrene and ethylbenzene as the desired intermediate and final products, respectively. With properly designed experiments, the reaction performance in pulsing flow and trickling-flow regimes was compared directly. The effects of process variables such as temperature, feed flow rates, and reactant concentration on reaction behavior were studied. A simplified model to describe the qualitative trends was also developed. Both experiments and calculations show that the yield of styrene is higher in pulsing flow than in trickling flow, which confirms the advantages of pulsing-flow operation predicted by the theoretical work.